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Is Ozempic Effective for Weight Loss?
Updated on May 25, 2023
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Diet / Weight Loss
Is Ozempic Effective for Weight Loss?

Yes. Early research suggests that Ozempic® is effective for weight loss. Semaglutide—its active compound—has been shown to reduce excess weight.

In a clinical trial, more than 4,500 adults who were obese or overweight received 2.4 mg of subcutaneous semaglutide once a week. Based on their findings:1

  • Patients lost 15 to 18 percent body weight after 68 weeks of treatment
  • Semaglutide resulted in more significant weight loss than the placebo
  • The treatment appeared to be safe and well-tolerated


Ozempic® is an FDA-approved antidiabetic drug for type 2 diabetes. However, clinical studies show its potential use as a weight loss drug.

What is Ozempic and What is It Used for?

Ozempic® is a subcutaneous semaglutide that’s FDA-approved for treating type 2 diabetes.

The drug is usually prescribed when first-line diabetes medications have failed to improve blood sugar levels or have stopped working after some time. 

“This classification of drugs increases insulin secretion, causing glucose from the blood to enter into cells,” says our in-house medical expert, Dr. Rizza Mira.

Ozempic® may also be used to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes who have heart disease. This includes heart attacks, stroke, and possible death.

Pros & Cons of Using Ozempic

Ozempic® Pros

  • Only administered once a week
  • Has fewer side effects than oral semaglutide (Rybelsus®)
  • Potential weight loss treatment for overweight and obese patients
  • May be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance

Ozempic® Cons

  • Needs to be injected into the skin
  • Can’t be used for patients with type 1 diabetes
  • Branded medicine with no generic alternative so it can be expensive

How Does Ozempic Work?

Ozempic® is an incretin mimetic and a GLP-1 agonist that lowers blood sugar levels and reduces weight by mimicking the hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1.

Keep in mind that Ozempic® must be used with diet and exercise. You’ll need to make lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and increased physical activity.

How Ozempic Lowers Blood Sugar

Ozempic® can control blood sugar in three ways:

  • It stimulates insulin secretion, which moves glucose away from the blood and into your body’s cells to be used for energy.
  • It inhibits the hormone glucagon and prevents the production of glucose.
  • It slows the movement of food in your stomach. This delays the breakdown of food into glucose and limits the amount of sugar released into the blood.

These combined effects give Ozempic® the ability to lower blood sugar and prevent sudden increases in blood glucose levels, also known as sugar spikes.

How Ozempic Works for Weight Loss

Ozempic® contains semaglutide, the same active ingredient as Wegovy®, an FDA-approved weight loss medication.

Because of this, Ozempic® has similar effects:

  • It delays gastric emptying or the passage of food in the stomach.
  • It curbs appetite by influencing areas of the brain that regulate feeding.2
  • It reduces food cravings and hunger.

Ozempic® helps you lose weight by keeping you full for longer periods and reducing your food and calorie intake.


Ozempic® can be used for weight loss and is generally safe to use. But it can still cause side effects and is associated with some serious risks.

Can I Use Ozempic for Weight Loss?

Yes. You can use Ozempic® as a weight loss medication. However, it isn’t advised. You’ll also need a prescription from your doctor. 

“Many doctors will also encourage diet and exercise along with Ozempic to optimize weight loss—if they prescribe it to you. In patients who are obese and who have cardiovascular risks including high cholesterol, Ozempic is a good treatment modality,” says Dr. Mira.

While early studies show that it can help you lose weight, it isn’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight management. 

Ozempic® is still being reviewed by the FDA as a possible weight loss treatment for obese and overweight adults.

Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company that developed semaglutide, is still seeking FDA approval for the use of Ozempic® as a weight loss drug.

Is Ozempic Safe?

Ozempic® is generally safe when used as indicated. But there still isn’t enough proof to show that it’s safe for people with a history of pancreatitis or children under 18 years.

It’s best that you talk to a doctor regarding its safety. Your doctor can determine whether or not it’s safe for you based on your medical history and health.

Does Ozempic Have Side Effects?

Ozempic® is associated with side effects ranging from mild to serious.

Common Side Effects of Ozempic

The most common side effects associated with Ozempic® are mild to moderate gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. They usually do not last long and include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Constipation

Serious Side Effects of Ozempic

Ozempic® may cause serious side effects in some people. 

These include visual changes, severe allergies, gallbladder and kidney problems, inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), and low blood sugar.3

If you experience the following signs and symptoms, you may be suffering from these conditions and need to report them to your doctor:

  • Severe abdominal pain that doesn’t go away
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion or drowsiness
  • Feeling jittery or anxious
  • Mood swings or irritability
  • Sweating and shaking
  • Weakness or fainting
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swollen face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Severe rashes or itching
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Changes in urine or stool color
  • Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)

“Ozempic is started at the lowest minimum dose and slowly increased to decrease the chance of very serious side-effects,” says Dr. Mira.

What Do You Need To Know Before Taking Ozempic?

Ozempic® isn’t for everyone. While it is generally safe for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and weight problems in adults, there are a few things to consider.


Tell your doctor if you have medical conditions or if you’re taking other medications before starting treatment with Ozempic®.

If You Have Medical Conditions

It can’t be used to treat type 1 diabetes or replace insulin in people who need insulin. You also can’t use it if:

  • You’re allergic to semaglutide or any of the ingredients in Ozempic®
  • You or anyone in the family has had medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)
  • You have multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2)

Before you take Ozempic®, you need to tell your doctor if you have any medical conditions. This includes problems with your pancreas or kidneys or if you have a history of diabetic retinopathy.

If You’re Pregnant or Breastfeeding

It isn’t known if Ozempic® is harmful to an unborn baby, or if it passes into breast milk (subsequently, it isn’t known if breast milk that may have traces of Ozempic® causes harm to breastfeeding children). 

So you need to tell your doctor if:

  • You are or might be pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You have plans to become pregnant or breastfeed

Your healthcare provider may recommend a different treatment for blood sugar control if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. 

You should stop treatment two months before trying for pregnancy.

If You’re Taking Other Medications

You need to inform your doctor about other medications you’re taking. 

This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications, health supplements, and other drugs used to treat diabetes—like insulin and sulfonylureas.

Taking Ozempic® with other antidiabetic medications and/or insulin may result in hypoglycemia or blood glucose levels that are below normal. 

“Hypoglycemia is a life-threatening condition which can lead to coma or even death. This happens as the cells lack glucose to normally function,” explains Dr. Mira.


You can buy Ozempic® in many U.S. pharmacies as long you have a prescription. Ask your doctor if they can prescribe it to you for weight loss.

Where Do I Get Ozempic?

Ozempic® is a prescription medication. So it needs to be prescribed by your doctor before you can get it at a local pharmacy near you.

Some of the major U.S. pharmacies that dispense Ozempic® are:

  • Albertsons
  • Costco
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Kroger Pharmacy
  • Rite Aid
  • Target (CVS)
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • Safeway

Who Qualifies for Ozempic?

Healthcare professionals may prescribe Ozempic® if you are an adult who meets at least one of the following criteria:

  1. You have type 2 diabetes
  2. Your hemoglobin A1C isn’t responding to other treatments
  3. You have a known heart or vascular disease or are at risk of developing it and are obese

Some doctors may provide off-label Ozempic® prescriptions to obese people and people who are overweight, or have at least one weight-related condition.

How To Get Ozempic for Weight Loss

Since Ozempic® has yet to receive FDA approval as a weight loss medication, many doctors are hesitant to prescribe it.

Novo Nordisk also does not promote, suggest, or encourage using its medications off-label—that is, using them outside of their intended purpose.

That said, doctors can prescribe an approved drug like Ozempic® for unapproved use, such as weight loss. This is known as an off-label prescription.4

Off-label prescribing is a legal and common practice in the United States. It is estimated that one in every five prescriptions is for off-label use.4

If you want to use semaglutide (Ozempic®) for weight loss, you need to find a doctor who is willing to prescribe it for this purpose.

Updated on May 25, 2023
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Updated on May 25, 2023
Dr. Rizza Mira
Dr. Rizza Mira
Medical Reviewer
Dr. Rizza Mira is a medical doctor and a general practitioner who specializes in pediatrics, nutrition, dietetics, and public health.

As a pediatrician, she is dedicated to the general health and well-being of children and expecting parents. She believes that good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and prevention of illness are key to ensuring the health of children and their families.

When she’s not in the hospital, Rizza advocates and mobilizes causes like breastfeeding, vaccination drives, and initiatives to prevent illness in the community.
Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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